Sweden - Stockholm on a shoestring

By Simon Ball, a Travel Enthusiast

Read more on Stockholm.

Overall rating:4.0 out of 5 (based on 5 votes)
Recommended for:
Activity, Cultural, Short Break, Budget, Mid-range

Forget Sweden's reputation for being expensive - with a weak Swedish Krona your holiday cash goes further in Stockholm than you might imagine

Scandinavia probably isn't the first place that you would look for a bargain break, but the relative weakness of the Swedish Krona (SEK) compared to the Euro and no frills flights from regional airports make Sweden's capital, Stockholm a competative short stay destination.

At Lake Malaren’s junction with the Baltic Sea, Stockholm has a proud maritime history, so fittingly we checked into the Malardrottningen Boat Hotel Stockholm (Riddarholmen, 111 28 Stockholm). The world’s largest diesel yacht when launched in 1924, the Malardrottningen was given to Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton as an eighteenth birthday present. Today she is berthed near Gamla Stan Tunnelbana (underground) station and has on offer rooms ranging down from the opulent luxury of the owner’s cabin to the functional bunk bedded sailors’ cabins that we occupied for around £80 a night.

Things to do and places to see

The Malardrottningen was an ideal base for us to explore Gamla Stan (Old Town). This jumble of streets and squares is the place to pick up essential souvenirs like painted dala horses or perhaps some hand blown glassware. There are plenty of bars and restaurants offering similar prices to the UK and some more expensive and quite swanky ones down on the waterfront, like the floating Strandbryggan Sea Club bar (Strandvägskajen 27; +46 8 660 37 14; www.strandbryggan.se/home.m) where a pint will set you back about 50SEK.

The island of Djurgarden is a must. We got there by ferry (http://www.waxholmsbolaget.se/djurgardsfarjor/en/djurgardsfarjor.aspx) from Slussen, at the lower end of Gamla Stan. Having the exact fare of 40 SEK is essential, no change is given. Ashore it’s a short walk to the Vasamuseet (Galärvarvsvägen 14; 46 8 519 558 10; admission 90SEK; http://www.vasamuseet.se/sitecore/content/Vasamuseet/InEnglish/About/Vas...). The Vasa was a 64 gun warship launched in 1628 and sunk almost immediately on her maiden voyage just off the southern point of Djurngarden. Entombed in the mud of the Baltic Sea she was rediscovered and raised from the depths in the 1950s. By far the best preserved warship of the 17th century anywhere in the world, the Vasa is the centrepiece of a fascinating museum, the innovative architecture of which is almost as interesting as its content. Take a view of the main deck from the dizzying heights of the pitching crow’s nest if you dare.

Djurgarden’s other main attraction is Skansen (Djurgardsfarna 49; +46 8 442 80 00; http://www.skansen.se/pages/?ID=221; admission 90SEK). Founded in 1891, Skansen was designed to be a living record of the Swedish way of life in an increasingly industrialised world. Throughout its 70 acres there are 150 buildings that have been shipped and rebuilt piece by piece from all over Sweden. This fascinating insight of days gone by is complemented by traditional craft workshops and a farm with rare breeds of Swedish domestic animal. There is also an aquarium and a zoo featuring Swedish wildlife like brown bears, wolves, grey seals and elk.

A right royal day out

Just like their British cousins, the Swedish Royal Family has a place outside the hustle and bustle of the city centre. However unlike their British counterparts they don’t mind the public wandering around their gardens at the Drottningholm Royal Palace on the island of Lovon. We took the 50 minute ferry journey across Lake Malaren to Drottningholm from Stadshuskajen (City Hall Quay). Stromma Kanalbolaget (http://www.stromma.se/kanalbolaget) offer a round trip for 150 SEK or for 270 SEK you can get admission to nose around the palace interior thrown in. We were lucky enough to sail on the SS Drottningholm, a genuine steam powered ferry.

The waterfront palace was designed by Nicodemus Tessin the Elder in the 1600s in the baroque style. To the rear there are extensive gardens. Passing through the formal French Baroque gardens with their fountains we found ourselves in the more relaxed English Gardens. There are some quite curious buildings here, like the Guard’s House, which from a distance this looks like a very fancy tent. Up close you discover it’s solid, the walls have been sheathed in zinc and then painted to fool the eye.

Towards the rear of the English Garden we found the eighteenth century Chinese Pavilion and an intriguing raised building known as the Confidence. The Confidence was built over its own kitchens and engineered with a table that, once laid below stairs could be raised fully laden into the dining room above. The royals could then entertain without even having to see a servant. Well I can’t vouch for the quality of the food back then but today you can get an extremely good waffle with cream from the same kitchen.

Food on the go

Stockholm’s fast food is herring (Stromming) and there are numerous stalls selling this tasty treat. Served with dill sauce, red onion and cucumber it can be enjoyed as a wrap, on crispbread (knackis), with mash or even as a burger (Strommingburgare) from 30SEK to60SEK. Kebabs are also popular and I heartily recommend the Jerusalem Kebab and Café tucked away in Gamla Stan (Gasgrand 2; +46 8 20 40 35) where you can get a really large spicy Palestinian selection platter for around 65SEK.

We took a Ryanair (www.ryanair.com) flight from Stansted to Skavska and from there it’s about an hour into Stockholm’s T-Centralen Station by bus (179SEK return; www.flygbussarna.se). It was then a short hop on the Tunnelbana to Gamla Stan. On a previous visit we stayed at the more conventional Adlon Hotel (Vasagatan, 42, tel: +46 8 402 65 00, http://www.adlon.se/lang_uk/index.shtml) close to the T-Centralen Station, which was a very comfortable establishment with an interesting collection of antique telephones.

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More information on Sweden - Stockholm on a shoestring:

Simon Ball
Traveller type:
Travel Enthusiast
Guide rating:
Average: 4 (5 votes)
Total views:
First uploaded:
19 January 2010
Last updated:
5 years 30 weeks 2 days 13 hours 20 sec ago
Destinations featured:
Trip types:
Activity, Cultural, Short Break
Budget level:
Budget, Mid-range
Free tags / Keywords:
culture, wildlife, lakes, maritime history, street food, royal palaces

Simon recommends


Price from Rating
(out of 5)
1. Malardrottningen Boat Hotel Stockholm
2. Hotel Adlon

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Community comments (17)

1 of 1 people found the following comment helpful.

I enjoyed your guide very much. Good advice, very informative and excellent descriptions. I certainly found it inspirational. My only criticism would be that it seemed a tad too functional at times and that the practical information sometimes interrupted the flow of the article. A question as much to the editors as you here: is it necessary to include contact details to the sights and attractions? I'd say most visitors will figure that out for themselves, unless it is something out of the ordinary.

On another note, being from that neck of the wood, I am ashamed to admit I've never tasted stromming... Will definitely make that a priority next time!

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Hi Beate

Thank you for your kind words, you really must try the Stromming though they are delicious

Hi Beate - to answer your editorial question - it is necessary to include contact details for all recommendations. We want to offer guides that enable a really easy experience for the user of the guide. Imagine you had printed off Simon's comprehensive guide and were standing in a street in Stockholm looking for an attraction; right now you've got the phone number and the street address and if your phone has web capabilities, you've got the web address too. Part of the absolute joy of travelling is discovering places for yourself and wandering around, detached from technology and finding your own way. But a travel guide can be an able companion, especially if you're short on time. I hope this answers your question.

Hi Jeanette, thanks for the answer. I take your point. My comment was aimed at the famous attractions, though. Vasamuseet is a bit like the Tower of London - a key destination for most visitors.

1 of 1 people found the following comment helpful.

I enjoyed reading this guide. I think it is very helpful and in particular it gives many useful tips for first time visitors to Stockholm. I agree that Djurgarden is well worth a visit, not just for the museums, there are some lovely and very reasonably priced restaurants in the area.

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Hi QueeneMab

Thanks for the kind comments. I do remember the Bla Porten restaurant in Djurgarden it did fantastic herring with a warm potato salad, quite sublime.


2 of 2 people found the following comment helpful.

I really enjoyed reading Simon's guide to Stockholm. The point about Stockholm being less expensive that one would imagine is a good one. The Krona is low at the moment and Stockholm is becoming increasingly tourist friendly.

The various fast food stromming dishes you get from the stall in Slussen are not only yummy but also rich in Omega 3.

I would point out that the best time to visit Stockholm would be between May and September as many of the boat tours close during the winter, but having said that Stockholm is charming all the year round.

Loved the pictures of the animals, Simon.

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Hi Mira

Thanks for the kind comments, yes Stockholm is at it's best then, but a still a lovely place at any time.

And I agree stromming much better for you than hot dogs or burgers, nicer too.


1 of 1 people found the following comment helpful.

I think this works really well as a general city break guide to Stockholm, listing the main attractions and describing nicely what they involve. However, for a shoestring guide it may be necessary to list more free attractions, perhaps some hostel accommodation or more cheaper restaurants. I liked the photos very much and staying in a boat hotel sounds terrific.

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Hi Colin

Constructive criticism like yours is most welcome



0 of 0 people found the following comment helpful.

Stockholm is near the top of my must-visit list but I’m afraid this guide hasn’t inspired me to bump it up any further. Simon, this guide lacks some of the quality we find in some of your other guides, your guide to Paris for example.
You’ve immediately ostracised readers outside the UK with your references to the pound and UK prices. I’d consider removing these.
More in the way of an introduction to the city of Stockholm would also help readers to craft a picture of the city in their mind.
You’ll notice I’ve changed the main pic to a landscape one – this fits our homepage framework better. If you have a landscape version of your previous main image, please feel free to upload it.
Is the Strandbrggan Sea Club a bar or restaurant? More detail about this venue would be useful. As would a price and location of the hotel.
It’s often clear which subjects you have passion for Simon. Perhaps your guides could be more focussed on these themes? When writing is passionate, it is often better.
Thanks for your continuing contribution. We look forward to your next guide for Simonseeks.

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Again, I find I am puzzled by the editors comments. This is a UK travel site so to me it makes perfect sense to be given a comparison between pounds and Krona, as you may be aware, pounds are the current UK currency.

If your intention is to give the writer some constructive feedback, perhaps it would be more appropriate and professional to do this via an email rather than just writing rude remarks at the end of the piece. As it stands it just looks as if you are being un-necessarily critical.

Ps. for more information on the editorial policy, see Nick Trend’s blog post here: http://www.simonseeks.com/blog/new-approach-editors

Thank you and that is why I am even more puzzled According to your policy

"Those guides which we would have immediately accepted for publication under the current system (about 30 per cent of those submitted), we will continue to edit in the same way. One of the editors will also rate each guide (normally with a score of 4 or 5 out of 5), and add a comment explaining why they liked it."

The puzzling thing is you have not given any reasons stating why you liked this guide, in fact your comments would lead me to suppose that you had not liked the guide at all.

Thank you for your comments.
You are correct that Simonseeks is a UK-based travel site. But the web is international and we have readers all around the world. Prices in local currency help everyone. What would be the point of someone in New Zealand converting a GBP price to a NZD price to work out a price in the Swedish currency? We're trying to make it easy for everybody.
I can assure you also, that these comments are meant to be constructive and useful to the writer and all other writers and readers. It is NEVER our intention to be rude. The amount of guides that are improved because a writer has taken on feedback and made changes is staggering. We hope you continue to enjoy Simonseeks.

some of the original post was lost during the uploading process I have now reinstated the lost introduction and added a few extra details.

I do think price is an important factor when making decisions about trips abroad but take onboard what you suggest about the pound (although I think to say ostracise is rather overegging the pudding) so have compared the Swedish Krone to the Euro, a comparison which I think most of the readers should be intelligent enough to work out.

I'm not worried about the order of the images I have worked at the high end of the creative industry (including as an editor) for long enough not to be precious about such things

Thanks for adding the extra information Simon. Do let us know before the editing process if you notice information missing (via contact us or email) and we'll make sure it's included.